Pape-Dawson Engineers

  • Former San Antonio official Fernando De Leon faces federal charges in alleged bribery scheme

    Fernando De Leon, assistant director of land development for the city of San AntonioIn March 2010, San Antonio police detectives and FBI agents visited the city’s Planning and Development Services Department, the place where real estate projects go to live or die based on whether the necessary permits are approved.

    One of the officials who signed off on those permits was Fernando De León, the department’s friendly, soft-spoken assistant director. Investigators headed to his office. De León wasn’t there, but they seized his computer and files. City Manager Sheryl Sculley later fired him, but De León wasn’t arrested.

    Until last week.

    A federal indictment made public Thursday sheds light on the case against De León:



    Longtime readers of the Express-News might remember some of the details we had discovered about the case through public records and lots of digging:

  • Authorities were scrutinizing De León and a permit-expediting company called Rapid Permit Services. Federal officials subpoenaed records at Pape-Dawson Engineers Inc., one of the largest engineering firms in town, to gather information about Rapid Permit Services and possibly others. Pape-Dawson was not the target of the inquiry;
  • Rapid Permit Services got a plum job at the Rim, an 800-acre shopping center;
  • De León reviewed and approved some of the paperwork for the Rim that had been filed by Rapid Permit Services;
  • De León’s sister and possibly his mother were tied to Rapid Permit Services;
  • At Pape-Dawson, the point of contact for Rapid Permit Services was a project manager named Oscar Rodriguez.
  • For the first time, the indictment lays out the actual allegations against De León, and describes how he is accused of teaming up with Rodriguez to defraud Pape-Dawson and the firm’s clients.

    Check out the most recent story here, and if you want to learn more, here are past posts about the case.


  • FBI examined records at Pape-Dawson Engineers in probe of permit company

    Fernando De Leon, assistant director of land development for the city of San AntonioLast week, FBI agents and white-collar crime police detectives questioned Fernando De León, a city official in San Antonio who oversaw the permitting process for real estate development.

    We published a story today with more details:

    Federal authorities subpoenaed records last year at Pape-Dawson Engineers Inc., the largest engineering firm in San Antonio, as part of an investigation of permitting practices at the city’s Planning and Development Services department.

    Two sources familiar with the inquiry said Pape-Dawson Engineers is not the target of the investigation. FBI agents appear to be focused on Rapid Permit Services Inc., a small company that Pape-Dawson had hired in the past to file development plans with the city.

    Records and interviews show Rapid Permit Services is owned by Rebeca De León Lopez, who is the sister of Fernando De León, an assistant director of land development at the city who was questioned Friday by the FBI.

    Federal agents and white-collar crime police detectives seized De León’s computer and files from his office Friday at the Development Services “One Stop” Center at 1901 S. Alamo St. That same day, City Manager Sheryl Sculley placed De León on administrative leave.

    Asked about the FBI inquiry, engineer Gene Dawson Jr., a well-known figure in the real estate industry, responded by e-mail to the San Antonio Express-News, stating: “Pape-Dawson confirms that we did meet with the FBI last summer, but due to the ongoing investigation, we have no further comment.”

    You can check out this pdf of the incorporation papers of Rapid Permit Services, which were filed about 10 months before De León was promoted to assistant director at the city in July 2006. The city also has a flow chart on its Web page showing the employees who worked for De León and their duties.

    Here’s a Dipity time line of the main events we know so far, in a case that raises questions about the oversight of real estate development in a rapidly growing city: